Monday, January 25, 2010

A Bride Named Zoe

In my last blog, I said that God creates by making things and by “begetting” children.

All human beings are God’s children in a certain sense, simply because he created them. However, when God “saves” a person, He puts into him or her something of His very nature. God creates all men and women. He makes “saved” man or women into sons and daughters. That’s how God “begets”.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, reminds us that there are two Greek words for life, “Bios” and “Zoe.” The difference between these two words describe this difference between “making” and “begetting.”

All living human beings have Bios; only believers have Zoe.

God gives a human being Zoe, which the New Testament describes as life everlasting or life more abundantly. When that happens, we say that we are “born again.”

This is New Testament language.

1 Peter, 1:23, says that when we are born again, we are “begotten, not of corruptible seed, but the incorruptible, even the Word of God, which lives and abides forever.”

The Greek word for “seed” in that passage sperma.

Read that verse again, substituting the word “sperma” for the English word “seed.”

Now think of the new birth in this light: we are born again, not of corruptible, or earthly sperma, by of the Word of God, which endures forever.

Reading it that way drives home the fact that when the Word of God finds lodging in our hearts, it initiates a process of regeneration. It imparts the very life force, the very nature of God into us.

In his first epistle (1 John 3:2), St. John says this:

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

The apostle John seems to be saying that although believers know that they are God’s children, they do not yet fully grasp what this implies. We only know that in some way, and at some point in the future, we will be like Him!

Children often look like their fathers. God plans for us to look like Him because HE is our Father.

We have such crude ways of imagining this.

On today’s date, in 1858, Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" was played for the first time. The occasion was the wedding of Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Victoria, to the crown prince of Prussia. Since then, how many millions of brides have marched down the aisle to that music?

Do all those brides know what that their lives are drastically changing? Do they know that they will be a different person in twenty years that they would have been had they married someone else?

Yesterday, in the One Year Bible, we read how Jacob prophesied over each of his sons. He described what their descendants would be like after his death. How did he know these things? Because he was their father and had, for their entire lives, observed them carefully. He was concerned with the attitudes, characteristics and behaviors he had observed in each of them and how these would keep impact them and their descendants.

Jacob was fathering his elderly children, even though he was about to die. The reason for this is clear: covenant is about the people who come after us, about the quality of our descendants’ spiritual lives.

Jacob knew what millions of brides have not known, marching down the aisle to Mendelssohn’s music: our choices create huge shifts in the history of the world. As God’s children, we are responsible for those choices and for the impact of those choices. We are stewards and trustees of our family, the covenant and the power of God’s life within us.

Today, the Old Testament reading in the One Year Bible leaps ahead four hundred years, where we can observe the impact of the actions of Jacob’s sons upon the future.

How important it is for us to honor the beginning stages of things. As the music is playing and we are enthralled with the festivities, we must remember that the real work begins the following day, when we must remain true to the course of action we have committed ourselves to take.

In parenting, being disciples, taking up the responsibilities of citizenship – in all the joys and labor of adult life, a force moves through us that renews the world and “fits us for heaven.”

The Greeks called it ZOE; Jesus called it Eternal Life.

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